Rosh Yeshiva

YBA Givat Shmuel ranked among the top schools in Israel

YBA Givat Shmuel Beit Midrash
YBA Givat Shmuel was ranked among the top high schools in Israel, with a 97% matriculation rate and a 95% induction rate for IDF service.
Rabbi Shraga Fruchter

The Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shraga Fruchter, himself a graduate of YBA Pirchei Aharon near Haifa, attributes the success to love: “When a boy comes to our school and sees how important he is to his teachers, and how the entire staff does everything it can to help him achieve success, it gives him the drive to apply himself with all his abilities.”

When YBA Givat Shmuel was founded in 1972 as a middle school, it was intended to serve as a "feeder school" for boys in the central part of Israel to the 16 residential high schools in the YBA network at that time spread out in rural settlements throughout Israel.

However, in 1978, following requests from the parent association, it was decided to expand the school into - the network's first non-residential comprehensive yeshiva high school. Today, the school serves over 750 students, half of whom from Givat Shmuel and  the other half from other cities in the Dan (greater Tel Aviv) urban district. The school offers a residential option for students who live too far to travel by bus each day to the school.

Rabbi Drukman wins award; comes out against alternative conversion courts

YBA Chairman, Rabbi Haim Drukman
Rabbi Haim Drukman, Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Yeshivat Hesder Or Etzion and Chairman of the YBA Educational Network in Israel, was awarded the coveted Prize for Torah Literature by the Torah and Wisdom College, citing the six books already published, as well as the many books presently being worked on for future publication. Last year’s prize was awarded to Rabbi Yehoshua Weizmann, the Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Yeshivat Hesder Maalot Yaakov.

Rabbi Drukman headed the Conversion Authority within the Prime Minister's office for many years, and is critical of the way conversion is being conducted today by the Haredi-dominated Chief Rabbinate. Neverthe less, Rabbi Drukman is opposed to the recent move by other religious Zionist rabbis to establish alternative conversion courts outside the Israel Chief Rabbinate.

Read  more about Rabbi Drukman's position on the current controversy shaking the religious Zionist community in Israel:

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/199289#.VdNEBpvotLM

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/is-it-mutiny-independent-rabbinic-court-competing-with-chief-rabbinate-on-conversions/2015/08/11/




Rabbi Drukman speaks out against religious extremism and violence

YBA Educational Network Chairman, Rabbi Haim Drikman
Many uninformed or misinformed American Jews think that Bnei Akiva schools teach their students to be extremists. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

On Friday, in response to two terrible incidents that took place the day before, Rabbi Haim Drukman, the Chairman of the YBA Educational Network in Israel spoke out yet again against all forms of extremism and violence, whether against Arabs or Gay Jews.


YBA is all about teaching moderation, which is according to Rambam, 'the golden path.'
READ MORE

BACK TO THE BEIT MIDRASH

YBA has found the secret to instilling a love of learning Torah in the hearts of their students: a return to the classical formula of Hevruta study in the Beit Midrash

By Moshe Glanz, ARUTZ SHEVA NEWS (translation)

YBA yeshiva high school students in the Beit Midrash
In the ongoing discussions over the past several years about how to make Gemara (Talmud) study more popular among yeshiva high school students, the YBA educational network began developing two years ago a new method of teaching Talmud, which has gained momentum in the past year. This year the method was applied in 16 different Bnei Akiva yeshiva high schools throughout the country, and the network plans on expanding the system to more schools next year. The goal is to double the number of participating students from 800 to 1,500, with the assistance of the Religious Education Department of the Ministry of Education.

Not like Math and English

On of the initiators of the change was Rabbi Meir Toiber, Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Netiv Meir in Jerusalem. In an interview with B’sheva, Rabbi Toiber explained that the decision for the change was made after a gradual decline in the total number of hours dedicated to Gemara study in yeshiva high schools over the past 15 years for various reasons. As a result, the Beit Midrash (study hall) was hardly being used for the purpose of independent learning. "We realized that in order to instill the love of Torah in our students we would need to turn the situation around 180 degrees."

What was the method of study before the change?

"The students perceived the Morning Seder (study session) in the Beit Midrash as preparation time for the class in Talmud that followed, in which the teacher would cover everything they needed to know anyway. This created a feeling that Talmud was just like any other subject. We finally came to the conclusion that the reason why our students were lacking motivation to study Talmud," he says. "was that they felt the same, whether studying for a Talmud lesson, a math lesson or an English lesson. But if we look deeply into the concept of Torah study, we understand that the Talmudic competence is acquired not only from hearing a lecture, but through struggling to understand a passage in the text through the give-and-take of independent study with a hevruta (study partner)."

The Talmud consists of the Mishna, Gemara and commentaries
Rabbi Yehuda Felix, who until six months ago, was the head of Education Department at Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network, properly understood the need to change the equation. , and together with Rabbi Toiber and the financial backing of YBA benefactor, Mr. Benjamin Landy, it was decided to change the Morning Seder both literally and figuratively. "This is a significant change;" Rabbi Toiber states. "it is not just about learning in an hour and a half. We moved the Talmud lesson to before the Morning Seder so that everything learned in the classroom becomes preparation for the Seder session itself, where students sit with their study partners and actively acquire the skills for learning Talmud." According to Rabbi Toiber, this self-instruction experience leads to a love of Torah because it provides the natural connection to the Torah that was so lacking before.

The results were not long in coming. A few months after some of the yeshiva high schools decided to adopt and began implementing the system, the initiators realized that they had caught a wave. "I had students tell me happily: ‘Before Talmud was just another subject for me; now I understand that what I am doing is learning to learn Torah.’” That proves to me that this is a big change," Rabbi Toiber says enthusiastically.  "Just recently, I went into the Beit Midrash of one of our yeshiva high schools to look for a certain teacher, and I saw dozens of boys sitting and learning with their hevruta partners. I looked to my right and to my left and couldn’t find their rabbi. When I approached the students and asked them where he was, they replied: ‘He is in reserve duty [in the IDF].’"

Rabbi Toiber could not resist and asked: “So why are you sitting and learning in the Beit Midrash instead of playing ball outside?” The students did not understand the question. "It's an amazing thing," he continues smiling. "This shows that the change worked. The students understood that they acquired Torah by sitting and learning with their hevruta. This should not to be taken as a given – these are fruits that we had not seen before. At the end of the year we visited all the Yeshivot and met with students, teachers and yeshiva heads. They filled out feedback sheets, and we discovered a huge surge in love of learning Torah. All the measures of attention, attachment and motivation were well above anything we had ever seen before."

Does not contradict matriculation

It is no secret that in Bnei Akiva yeshiva high schools there is tension between the desire to study Torah and the connection to the real world. But according to Rabbi Toiber, the struggle between different forces only proves that Torah study must receive greater expression. "Over the years the students have come to expect and demand high achievement levels in both general and Judaic studies matriculation scores. This “wanting it all” demands that we provide enrichment in both directions," he explains. "Ultimately, the ideal of the yeshiva is that Torah should influence every aspect of life - everything," he says. "Our concept is: be a military man, be a lawyer, be a farmer, merchant or be anything you want; but on one condition: that you stay connected to the Torah. The connection to Torah must not be just intellectual; it must be a spiritual link. It is clear to me that students should learn for matriculation tests, but all subjects must be wrapped up in the connection to Torah."

Following the success of the initiative, YBA wants to expand to an even higher level. "We want to eventually include another measure of success – we hope to have our students writing term papers on the Talmudic issues they dealt with during the year."

When learning Torah becomes achievement oriented, don’t you lose something of the value of learning Torah for its own sake?

"First of all, that’s a great question. And you’re right, that is a difficult challenge," says Rabbi Toiber. "But it is important to emphasize that we are not talking here about just a positive learning experience." According to him, the bottom line must be that the students master in depth the Talmud they were studying during the year. "When we ask the students what is the conclusion of a Talmudic passage they learned, they need to know the answer, and not just that they enjoyed studying it. That’s not how you raise Talmidei Chachamim. We need to work simultaneously on both aspects, so that on the one hand they will learn the proper tools of Torah study with their hevruta that will serve them later in life, and on the other hand to professionally measure their scholastic achievement."

How do you intend to move the process forward in the years ahead?


"We are moving forward in two ways: first by training our Talmud teachers to use this method effectively. We are already doing this and we will do even more next year. Secondly, this year we included 16 Bnei Akiva yeshiva high schools, and by expanding next year to 22 schools, the number of students participating in the initiative will double. Thus, gradually we believe, we will succeed in bringing back the sounds of Talmud study to all the yeshiva high schools in the Bnei Akiva network." Rabbi Toiber explains, "Our goal is to increase Torah and glorify it."

Rabbi Drukman's Message to YBA Students on Yom Hazikaron 5775 (Hebrew)

"Where else does an entire nation stand at attention for two minutes to remember its fallen soldiers?" Rabbi Haim Drukman, Chairman of the YBA Educational Network in Israel, teaches us to appreciate the holiness of Yom Hazikaron.

YBA student elected Youth Council Chairman in Haifa

Eitan Suissa
Last week Eitan Suissa, a 12th grade student at YBA Yavneh in Haifa, was elected by the representatives of 35 municipal high schools in Haifa, to chair the Municipal Youth Council. The snap election was called for when the previously elected chairman suddenly resigned his post. Eitan had been serving as the Youth Council's spokesperson until being drafted by his peers to the chairman position.

Eitan's election comes just weeks after another YBA student, Talia Matzri, was elected to the chairmanship of the Petach Tikvah Youth Council. (See related story.)

"Three years ago I came to the Haifa Youth Council as the representative of my school with a desire to serve and faith that we, the city's youth, can be a driving force for change in the city," Eitan said upon accepting the chairmanship. "We have been privileged to represent, advocate for and provide for the needs of our city's youth. I plan to lead a policy of strengthening the unity and affinity between the various interest groups in the city, out of a faith that the only way for the future is through cooperation."

YBA Yavneh, Haifa Campus
By virtue of his position, Eitan will sit on the Haifa City Council as representative of the Municipal Youth Council. "It is a challenge for any 12th grader to make time in his busy schedule for such a heavy responsibility, but I'm sure that Eitan is up to the task," said the Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Yavneh, Rabbi Yoram Shamir.

YBA Yavneh joined the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network in 2008, at the request of the parent's committee after years of slipping enrollment and academic achievement. Approximately one third of the students require scholarship assistance due to financial need. Since joining the network the school has upgraded its secular and Judaic studies programs, and now serves over 300 students, with graduating classes achieving a matriculation rate of over 86%.

YBA Orot Yehuda Campus Construction Progressing



Sandy Herskowitz withYBA Orot Yehuda  Rosh Yeshiva,
Rabbi Shlomo Kimche, at construction site in Efrat
Sandy Herskowitz from New York visited Efrat last week to see the progress in construction of the YBA Orot Yehuda campus there. The school's Department of Judaic Studies was dedicated at last years' dinner by Sandy & Boondi Herskowitz and Shari & Maurice Gluckstadt, in memory of their parents, AFYBA Founder Marvin and Renee Herskowitz z"l.

YBA Orot Yehuda, which joined the YBA network in 2012, serves over 150 students in its overcrowded temporary quarters today. When the new school building opens next September, there will be ample room for over twice as many students. The school has earned a reputation for excellence over the years, and draws students not only from Efrat and the surrounding Gush Etzion settlements, but even from Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and Kiryat Arba.




Exterior view of the construction site, March 2015

Interior view of the classroom building central atrium stairway, March 2015

Training Israel's Future: How to Save a Life

Purim is usually associated with levity, silly costumes and partying. But for the girls at UBA Chen Bamidbar in Beer Sheva, the holiday this year was an opportunity to demonstrate their LEADERSHIP and SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, to raise over 40,000 shekels ($10,000) for 11-year old Ayala Shapira, a young victim of terror.


Terror Victim Ayala Shapira
Ayala was severely burned when a molotov cocktail (fire bomb) struck the car she was riding in with her father on December 25, 2014. Doctors succeeded in saving her life, but she is still facing many more months of rehabilitation and painful skin graft operations.

"About 3,000 people came out for the Purim carnival our students planned to benefit Ayala," said Rosh Ulpana, Rabbi Yoni Samuel. "It shows that people are thirsting for opportunities to do Chesed!" The ulpana campus was converted into a festive marketplace for the carnival, with local merchants and pizza parlors donating their wares, which added greatly to the event's profits. 

UBA Chen Bamidbar was founded in 1999 and serves about 550 girls in grades 7-12. While over half the school's students come from low income families and receive tuition reductions accordingly, over 80% complete full matriculation each year, paving the way to higher education and a better future.

Read more about Ayala Shapira
Top left: Netanya mayor, Miriam Fireberg with YBA Yad Avraham boys;
Bottom: Emily Schwartzman

In a similar story, the students of YBA Yad Avraham in Netanya last month succeeded in raising over 20,000 shekels ($5,000) in one night on behalf of Emily Schwartzman, a three and a half year old girl living in the city who is in need of a life-saving medical procedure in the US. 

In this instance, the students made an appeal for contributions over the PA system at the Netanya Stadium during a soccer match between Maccabi Netanya and Beitar Jerusalem, then spread out in the stands to “pass the hat” among the fans to donate their pocket change. Netanya Mayor Miriam Fireberg congratulated the boys for their initiative after the game.

YBA Yad Avraham was founded in 1960 and serves about 500 boys in grades 7-12. Over 88% complete full matriculation each year, and 100% serve in IDF combat units. Many of the school's alumni are leaders in their fields, including:
  • Prof. Yitzchak Kraus, President of Herzog College of Education
  • Rabbi Baruch Weider, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Hesder Hakotel
  • Rabbi Yossi Stern, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Hesder Akko
  • Elad Tshuva, Deputy Chairman of Delek Group
  • Yisrael Fried, CEO, Galei Zahal Radio
  • Yair Orbach, Stand-up Comedian
YBA Yad Avraham campus in Netanya
YBA: Training Israel's Future.

Rabbi Haim Drukman honored by Bar Ilan University

From left: Prof. Shmuel Vargon, Rabbi Haim Drukman
and Rabbi Noam Perl (photo: Yoni Hamenachem)
Rabbi Haim Drukman, Chairman of the YBA Educational Network in Israel and Rosh Yeshiva of the YBA Or Etzion Hesder Yeshiva was one of five distinguished Israelis to be awarded the Brookdale Prize for Exceptional Contribution to Israeli Society by Bar Ilan University. He was awarded the prize “for his many years of activity for the advancement of Torah education, and for his multi-faceted contributions to Israeli Society.” 

Rabbi Drukman is an Israel Prize Laureate (2012) for Lifetime Achievement. He is one of the most senior and well-respected leaders of the religious Zionist population in Israel. He founded and still heads a number of important institutions, including YBA Or Etzion yeshiva high school, Or Etzion IDF military cadet high school, Or Etzion Hesder Yeshiva, Mechinat Or MeOfir for Ethiopian Olim, AMI Conversion Institute, and Mechina of the Northern Negev. In addition, as the former head of the Prime Minister's Office Conversion Authority, he has personally signed off on over 50,000 conversions in Israel, and as chairman of the YBA Educational Network in Israel, he is the spiritual leader of our 24,000 students. 

The award was presented by Prof. Shmuel Vargon, of the Zalman Shamir Bible Dept. of BIU, and Rabbi Noam Perl, the Secretary General of the Bnei Akiva Worldwide Youth Movement, Rabbi Perl was Rabbi Drukman's student at YBA Or Etzion, and went on to found and head the YBA Sussya Yeshiva High School for Environmental Studies.





YBA Givat Shmuel wins prize and praise

We are excited to announce that our YBA yeshiva in Givat Shmuel (near Bar Ilan University) was recently awarded the Ministry of Education’s Citation for Excellence for 2014-15.

From left: YBA Givat Shmuel Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shraga Freuchter,
 Givat Shmuel Mayor Yossi Brodney and Deputy Minister Avi Wortzman
“We are very lucky to have such a fine school as YBA Givat Shmuel in our city,” said Givat Shmuel’s mayor, Yossi Brodney, at a ceremony in city hall recognizing the school. 

Mayor Brodney also had words of praise for the school’s Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shraga Freuchter. “Rabbi Freuchter is one of a kind,” he said, “he instills in his students the values of Zionism and Humanism, love of the Land and love of all Mankind. He simply does incredible work that brings the city much honor and pride.”

YBA Givat Shmuel was originally established in 1976 as a three-year junior high school meant to be a feeder school for students to YBA residential yeshiva high schools around the country. It eventually transitioned into a full six-year junior and senior yeshiva high school in its own right. 

Approximately 100 of the school’s 600 students reside in the dormitory, while the others are bussed daily to and from the yeshiva from cities in the Greater Tel Aviv region. The Yeshiva is renowned for its warm, supportive atmosphere, and the school's scholastic achievements are among the highest in the country.

YBA Givat Shmuel
Beit Midrash Building
Deputy Minister of Education, MK Avi Wortzman credited Rabbi Freuchter for the school’s award: “You are one of the most outstanding educators in Israel; a model to be emulated. You have built an exemplary institution; a trailblazing yeshiva. You and your superb faculty believe in your students, and that is what leads them to grow, flourish and succeed. YBA Givat Shmuel is a leader in volunteerism, ethical values, Torah scholarship, good citizenship, and of course, also high matriculation scores.”


We are grateful to the Ministry of Education and the mayor of Givat Shmuel for expressing what we know to be true: our YBA schools are Training Israel’s Future.™

YBA Rosh Yeshiva: “Political tolerance is a fundamental Jewish value.”


Israel is going to the polls on March 17th to elect its representatives to the country’s 20th Knesset. As part of the YBA network’s efforts in Training Israel’s Future™, we encourage our schools to host debates that are purposefully inclusive of multiple political perspectives.

For example, as part of their preparation for the matriculation exams in Civics, the 12th grade classes at YBA Lapid Torat Nachum and its sister school in Modiin, Ulpanat Orot Modiin, hosted a political debate last week on the subject of “Individual Rights vs Societal Rights.”

Panelists MK Elazar Stern and MK Rabbi Eli Dahan
(both graduates of YBA Netiv Meir) 
To make sure all sides of the political spectrum, from Right to Left, would be represented, the students invited Members of Knesset from 4 different political parties to present their views: MK Rabbi Eli Dahan (Bayit Yehudi), MK Moshe Gafni (Torah Judaism), MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua), and MK Dr. Laura Warton (Meretz). The head of ‘Peace Now’ in Israel, Yariv Oppenheimer, was also invited, and the panel was moderated by the students themselves.

The students were also motivated by the desire to increase the public dialogue between differing political camps in the city, so they made the debate a city-wide event by inviting their 12th grade cohorts from the two secular high schools in Modiin.

“The purpose of education is to open one’s mind, not to close it,” commented the school’s Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shmuel Rosenbloom, “We believe that character development includes getting to know and dialogue with other types of citizens who don’t share your outlook or opinions. Political and civil tolerance is a fundamental Jewish value.”

YBA Lapid Torat Nachum Rosh Yeshiva,
Rabbi Shmuel Rosenbloom, introducing the panel members
Approximately one hundred YBA alumni have filled Knesset seats since the founding of the State.  Sixteen YBA graduates were elected to the 19th Knesset in the last national elections held two years ago. It is quite possible that this record number will be surpassed when the vote-counting for the 20th Knesset is completed on March 18.




40% intermarriage rate in France means that 10% of French Olim need conversion services

The growing number of anti-Semitic terror attacks in France has inspired thousands of French Jews to pack up and "make Aliyah." Israel welcomed 7,000 French Olim in 2014 and the country is expecting 10,000 to 15,000 more in 2015.

However, the massive wave of Aliyah from France raises once again the conversion dilemma to the forefront of public discourse in Israel.

According to Prof. Sergio DePergola, an expert in Jewish demography worldwide, the intermarriage rate among French Jews has been around 40% for the past 20-30 years. As a result, The Jewish Agency reports, about 10% of new immigrants from France in 2014 were not Jews according to Jewish law (Halacha).

Rabbi Haim Drukman receiving Israel Prize
from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Rabbi Haim Drukman, the chairman of YBA in Israel and Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Or Etzion, recognized long ago the need to create a user-friendly conversion program for such new immigrants. Back in the early 1990s Rabbi Drukman took the lead and founded the "Ami" (My People) conversion program at his yeshiva  in order to welcome thousands of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union who wished to "join the fold" in a fully Halachic conversion.

Over the years Rabbi Drukman has signed the conversion papers of over 50,000 new immigrants. He was awarded the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 2012, which included recognition for his service to Israel as the head of the national conversion authority for the Prime Minister's office.

YBA Or Etzion's Ami conversion program has already sponsored conversion classes for French olim for the past three years, and is in position to take the lead once again for the national effort on behalf of this new wave of Aliyah from France. Just another way that YBA is Training Israel's Future!

MInistry of Education recognizes YBA Givat Shmuel for academic excellence

YBA Givat Shmuel was recently awarded the Ministry of Education’s prize for Academic Excellence in the religious sector for 2014-5. The prize recognizes schools that have a steady track record of scholastic improvement in the past decade.

Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shraga Fruechter (right)
with YBA Givat Shmuel Robotics Club
The school’s Robotics Club is an example of this improvement. In the past three years it has won 1st prize and 3rd prize in the Ministry of Education’s national competition, co-sponsored by the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. Furthermore, 94% to 98% of the school’s graduates achieved full matriculation for entrance to university in the past five years consecutively.

“The yeshiva’s crowning glory is that we produce ‘Bnei Torah’," said Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shraga Fruechter. "We try to build their character with Torah values while at the same time helping them to achieve excellence in the sciences and other disciplines.”

The mayor of Givat Shmuel, Yossi Barudniadded, “The municipality has worked closely with the yeshiva in recent years to help the school serve the sons of our town and achieve its mission: to train a new generation of leaders, who love the Torah, their nation and their land.”

Yeshivot Bnei Akiva: Training Israel’s Future.TM

Instilling Jewish values at YBA Hadarom

Rabbi Kook addressing YBA Hadarom students
as Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi David Twersky (seated) looks on. 
Last June three boys were kidnapped and killed by Hamas terrorists in Gush Etzion, The vicious murder of Gilad Shear, Naftali Frankel and Eyal Yifrah prompted the PA and IDF to crackdown on Hamas terrorists operating in the Hebron area, Hamas in Gaza responded by firing hundreds of missiles on cities and towns in southern Israel, and the IDF responded by launching Operation Protective Edge, which left 66 IDF soldiers and 5 Israeli civilians killed during 50 days of fighting.

Now, six months later, students of YBA Hadarom in Rehovot have begun a project to honor the memory of the three murdered boys, Gilad, Naftali and Eyal, by studying Torah.

“Jewish tradition teaches us that Torah study in memory of a soul elevates that soul in Olam Habah (the World Come)," explained Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi David Twersky at the opening ceremony, "So we are calling the project ‘Mishna l’neshama’ (Mishna for the Soul),The goal is for each student to learn two chapters of Mishna per week.”

The ceremony was attended by the grandparents of Gilad and Naftali, residents of Rehovot, and the Chief Rabbi of Rehovot, Rabbi Simcha Hacohen Kook, who praised the boys for taking responsibility for the Nation of Israel through the project.

Yeshivot Bnei Akiva - Training Israel's Future. TM

Yeshivat Hesder Hakotel overseas students volunteer for Bnei Akiva in Israel

Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Baruch Weider ( center, bottom row), with the Yeshivat Hakotel Shabbat Irgun shlichim

Yona Budo
on Yeshivat Hakotel roof
Each year a group of Hesder students from Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem’s Old City leaves the yeshiva's Beit Midrash for a long weekend to volunteer as counselors for the Bnei Akiva Youth Movement’s annual Shabbat Irgun. This year, the 30 Israeli students were joined by 15 American students from the yeshiva’s Overseas Students Program, for a uniquely memorable experience interacting with Israeli youngsters. 

The group decided to dedicate themselves to the challenge in order to pay honor to the memory of Staff Sgt. Evyatar Turgeman, an Israeli Hesder student at Yeshivat Hakotel who was killed in action during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge. Turgeman was an avid Bnei Akiva member and leader of the youth movement in his home town of Beit Shean, where he graduated from YBA Beit Shean.

Staff Sgt. Evyatar Turgeman, z"l
Veteran immigrant from the US, Yona Budo, had this to say about his friend and former chevruta (study partner) at Hakotel: "Evyatar was serious about everything he did. Already in our first year at Hakotel he knew what he expected from himself. He was straight as an arrow and very serious about learning Torah; something you don't see in many 18-year-old boys. We want to expose the Bnei Akiva kids to this weekend to the traits that Evatar personified - genuine integrity, and a clear conviction to holiness and serving Hashem."

New AFYBA board member Jeff Goldstein visits YBA schools

Jeffrey M. Goldstein, Esq., a lawyer from Teaneck, NJ, visited the YBA Yeshiva High School for Environmental Studies – Sussya and YBA Orot Yehuda in Efrat this week, as part of his orientation as a new board member of AFYBA.

Rabbi Kimche (L) and Jeff Goldstein
in a classroom under construction
YBA Orot Yehuda Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shlomo Kimche, took Jeff to visit the construction site of the school’s new campus in Efrat, which is scheduled to open in September 2015. He also toured the campus and unique “green” dormitories at YBA Sussya in the southern Hebron Hills region, led by the school's director, Haim Bar-Hai.

Jeff and Natalie at the top
of the Rudjum Fortress
Following the tour of the campus AFYBA Associate Director, Natalie Sopinsky, who lives in Sussya, took Jeff to climb the Rudjum Fortress, a short walk to the north of the school. The fortress was built in Hasmonean times (circa 200 BCE) and served as a Jewish stronghold during the Bar Kochba revolt against Rome. The site was excavated in 1994, and the yeshiva students are voluntarily preparing the site as a tourist attraction, paving stone pathways, installing benches, lighting, etc.

"My visit showed me how vital it is to support the YBA educational network,” Jeff said. “YBA schools are literally grooming the next generation of Jewish leaders for the state of Israel. Catching a glimpse of the learning going on at YBA Sussya and Orot Yehuda strengthened my confidence that the students are receiving an education that is above average, compared to the rest of the yeshiva world."

YBA Lapid Torat Nachum, Modiin offers students advanced placement college degree

Students at YBA Lapid Torat Nachum in Modiin will be the first in the YBA educational network to be able to complete an advanced placement (AP) bachelor's degree before enlisting in the IDF.

Under a special arrangement with the Open University in Israel, qualified students starting from the 10th grade will be able to enroll in AP courses towards a bachelor's degree in whatever field offered by the university. Participating students will be granted a one-year deferment from the IDF in order to complete their degrees before mandatory enlistment.

Rabbi Shmuel Rosenblum
14 YBA Lapid Torat Nachum students have begun the pilot program this year. The YBA network hopes to expand the program to other schools in coming years.

"The idea is to encourage our students to strive for excellence," says Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Shmuel Rosenblum. "The yeshiva is prepared to give whoever is motivated all the assistance he needs to go as far as he possibly can go."

AFYBA Weekly Torah Portion: Parshat Vayetzei - Rabbi Shlomo Kimche

Parshat Vayetzei


Rabbi Shlomo Kimche is the Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Orot Yehuda in Efrat, Israel. To invite Rabbi Kimche as a Scholar-in-Residence, contact AFYBA at www.afyba.org. 

Remembering Rabbi Avraham Zuckerman, zt"l, co-founder and spiritual leader of the YBA network

Rabbi Avraham Zuckerman
On Sunday, November 11, a memorial service was held marking the first yartzheit of Rabbi Avraham Zuckerman, zt"l, co-founder and Rosh Yeshiva of the first Bnei Akiva yeshiva high school, YBA Kfar Haroeh,

Rabbi Zuckerman was born in Lithuania during WWI and left his home to study Torah at various Lithuanian yeshivot associated with the Musar movement at the tender age of 11. He arrived in Eretz Yisrael in 1936, and never left Israel after that.

Rabbi Zuckerman met Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neria, zt"l, while studying at the Beit Yosef Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, and soon after that joined the leadership of the fledgling Bnei Akiva religious Zionist youth movement.

In the winter of 1940, Rabbi Zuckerman joined Rabbi Neria in establishing the first Bnei Akiva high school yeshiva at Moshav Kfar Haroeh, and is credited with introducing the secondary curriculum of general studies to augmaent the traditional yeshiva Torah and Talmud studies, as a fulfillment of the mitzvah upon every father to teach his son a profession with which he will be able to make his livelihood.. Rabbi Zuckerman assumed the title of Rosh Yeshiva in 1995 with the passing of his close colleague, Rabbi Neria.

Rabbi Yona Goodman
Rabbi Yona Goodman, the YBA Director of Education, was a student of Rabbi Zuckerman at YBA Kfar Haroeh. "Rabbi Neria and Rabbi Zuckerman created the model for all modern yeshiva high schools that followed," he recalls. "The day starts out and ends with traditional Torah study in the Beit Midrash, with making room during the afternoon hours for practical general studies. But more importantly, they created a unique model that educated students toward the values of religious Zionism. We learned from them how Torah and building the Land of Israel go hand-in-hand."

"In every way, Rabbi Zuckerman transmitted the values of simplicity and humility. He taught us by personal example that Torah and humility occupy the same space, and that a man's greatness is judged by his character and not by his possessions."

"Rabbi Zuckerman originated a new educational philosophy that was very different from the norm of that time. He believed that the students are full partners with their rabbi-teachers in creating the yeshiva's educational environment. The yeshiva doesn't 'belong' the the faculty, but rather to the students themselves, who come to the yeshiva out of a genuine desire to learn Torah. This philosophy has been emulated and duplicated in hundreds of yeshivot, ulpanot and other educational institutions in the religious Zionist camp.

Rabbi Zuckerman passed away at the age of 97. He was survived by his wife and extended family, including 119 great-grandchildren, as well as tens of thousands of former students and their students.